The irk of Opportunity Wasted

Okay, so I’m going to try real hard not to be mean, but seeing backward-ass decisions realized just really rub me the wrong way. Seeing squandered opportunity and fizzled potential is just so depressing…

This past fall, I noticed a house under construction on my way home. A little 1940’s Cape Cod had been leveled to make room for the new house. As the framing went up, it was apparent that the builder had a more contemporary shape in mind. As I passed by on my daily route, I watched with mounting excitement! Pretty soon, however, my smile started to fade and was replaced by a scowl. Given rapidly rising energy costs, paralleled with equally rapid depletion of natural resources, I somehow couldn’t believe what was unfolding. The orientation of this building was a golden opportunity to do good things. To the north was a view of Mt. St. Helen’s – the volcano north of Portland that blew its top in 1980, while the world watched. Granted, between the house and the mountain is a stretch of industrial area, but no matter. Even so – I imagine most people would opt for a mountain view, given the chance – even if the foreground is less desirable. But, maybe that’s just my subjective opinion. Whether or not there are still some ways for the inhabitants of this house to enjoy the view ( and there seems to be some kind of balcony) it is of lesser importance than the part that really got my goat. What irked me the most was the far bigger opportunity that was lost, or more so, completely disregarded. To the south, is a busy street, and unlimited access to some of the cheapest energy in the world. As the house was taking shape, I was astounded to see that this exceptional opportunity for a solar-heated house was ignored. Wow… just wow…


By now, I had just soured on the whole thing, and the continued observing of their pedestrian choices for cladding, components, and colors, ridiculous placements of lights etc. just made me even more bitter. I could probably keep writing additional paragraphs making fun of the mental conjecture of the afternoon’s trek down the box store isles that likely constituted their entire process of material and component selections – but I’m not going to. I don’t want to be a snob. I really, truly believe that – with enough vision and creativity – just about any material can look fantastic in the right setting, and in the right combinations with others – regardless of cost. Likewise – even the most exclusive material can appear tacky in the wrong situation. Inspiration can arise from the most humble of palettes, but this brand-new house is the epitome of Uninspired. To my frugal way of thinking, it costs money to build, whether it’s done well or not. Why, oh WHY not make sure it is spent well? As you can see, some cosmetic money was spent on stone fascia, in order to make some kind of statement, as appearances go. Forgive my smoldering scowl, but it’s still just lipstick on a pig. There – I’m off my soap box! Sincere apologies for the kvetching session!


About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
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22 Responses to The irk of Opportunity Wasted

  1. That is a very ugly house.

  2. Alison says:

    Oh dear. That really is an ugly box.

  3. Elvis says:

    It’s a major candidate for this year’s WWTT? Award (What Were They Thinking?) I guess the answer is, sadly, they weren’t.

  4. Ricki Grady says:

    Everything about it is just plain silly. Sorry you must be affronted by it on your daily commute. Alternate routes?

    • annamadeit says:

      Silly is the best word I’ve heard for it yet, Ricki. Thankfully, I don’t go by it much anymore – it upset me every time for a long time. Feel better now that I’ve kvetched about it on the Ethernet!

  5. Emily says:

    Super ugly. Every bit of it. And the stone–it bugs me how people use it as a cladding and forget what it actually references. It’s stone! It’s “supposed” to be used for foundations and massive structural elements–not for cladding the top half of a pillar. The TOP half!

  6. linda says:

    I go through this every time a new house is built in my neighborhood , I dread what will happen to the five acre lot over the road from me when my elderly neighbor finally goes.

  7. Kris P says:

    Very homely. I wonder if the builder is a developer or the owner but, in either case, I don’t know why someone would construct this on purpose.

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, it’s just dreadful… I think it was a developer. It seems there are at least two housing units within it. Jane is right – what were they thinking…?

  8. Alain says:

    I have to agree with everyone else that it is quite unappealing as a house. It is a bit of a puzzle too – what is the large space above the second floor? Or does the 2nd floor have high ceilings with low windows? The stone cladding, especially at the top does not make any sense.

    • annamadeit says:

      Yes, the whole venture would be a great subject for discussion in architecture school. I’m guessing the windows probably happened to be the ones on sale at the box store.

  9. autopolis says:

    It looked like the opportunity to build one of those neat Dwell-style houses. I guess that’s what happens when the builder is the designer.

    • annamadeit says:

      True – it would have been a perfect opportunity for something fun. But then again, I’m a designer and I’m also a builder, so I’m not sure I agree with that last part… I guess, more so being a builder does not automatically make you a designer – which this is perfect example of. 😉

  10. Mike Snelson says:

    Not to mention that the house is just plain ugly.

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